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Using 1300 Numbers to increase business

Paul Thomas - Marketing Consultant MacarthurIt’s often difficult for small businesses to build credibility, instilling the perception of reliability in consumer’s minds. Owner-operators, particularly contractors and those in service industries publish their mobile phone numbers in newspaper ads, on their websites and on their vehicles. That’s what you are supposed to do and the phone number should be prominent!

However, the fact that just about anyone can have a mobile phone these days may vaguely reduce the value of a small business as far as consumers are concerned. Using a 1300 that redirects to your mobile phone or an answering service (monitored by humans) can actually increase business for you. The small cost associated with having a 1300 number is marginal when compared to the amount of business it can attract.

No Number

From a consumer’s point of view, they will subconsciously or knowingly think about the number they are calling. I know I do, when I need to call a 1300 number I expect to get good service … I don’t know why but I do expect that. Furthermore, I expect that my call will be connected to a bricks and mortar organisation.

Mobile phones used to be so expensive that they were only accessible to business people. My first mobile phone cost me $1800.00 with the car kit, it was a Motorola x8000 (brick phone). Now-a-days mobile phones are cheap and numbers are just as disposable as the plans on offer. Consumers are also aware of this and might reflect on their own experiences or stories about fly-by-night operators using pre-paid mobile phone accounts that cannot be traced to an individual.

A 1300 number can help you to look professional, more credible and build a picture of stability in your prospects minds. Oh, and before I go, no, you don’t really need to have name type number like ’1300 drain kings’. A lot of people that I talk to find it just as easy to remember the last six digits of a 1300. They already have the 1300 part tucked away in memory. Gimmicks vs ease of use!

One last tip. If you don’t have a 1300 number at least publish your preferred contact number. A lost opportunity is … well a lost opportunity. ACES (above), could be losing sales because their billboard, the back of the utility, is devoid of any contact information. If you think people will go out of their way to find your number you are kidding yourself. I’ve used Photoshop to add the phone number for ACES below. A $50 sign could lead to a $50,000 job!

With Number

You can get cheap 1300 numbers (in Australia) at: www.cheap1300number.com.au – no contracts and prices start at about $14 per month!

Easy light-weight colour picker

If you’re into web or graphic design and need a quick way to identify colours on your screen, here’s a great little gadget to do just that.

Instant Eyedropper is a light 415k download and once installed will allow you to choose a variety of on-screen resolutions and colour formats, such as HEX, RGB, Delphi Hex, VB Hex, HSB and HTML.

Instant Eyedropper - Options Dialogue

Eyedropper

Find out more or download Instant Eyedropper Here Yep, it’s a freebie!

SEO Meta Tag Character Counter

Did you know there are certain limits on the amount of information you can use in your HTML Meta “head” tags? Search Engines are rather particular when it comes to indexing websites. If you flood your Meta Tags with too much information you may be penalised and your website will score poorly on the search results pages.

How do you determine best practices when it comes to describing your web page content? In the source code of your web pages you will see the “head” and “/head” tags. Between these two tags is where you should add your Meta information.

If you are using WordPress or other good blogging software you can generally install an SEO Plugin that will allow you to manage the Meta information on your web pages. Each page should contain relevant information specfic to that page, otherwise your ranking could be affected.

The main Meta tags for SEO are the “Title”, “Description” and “Keywords” tags.

The number of characters in each of these are as follows:

Title – 60 Characters

Description – 160 Characters

Keywords – 180 Characters (or about 25 words separated with commas, not colons – this is wrong – keyword 1 : keyword 2 : keyword 3) Adding irrelevant characters can harm your search engine ranking by taking up valuable space.

You can use our Meta tag character counter below to check your character count. Simply type your web page Title, Description or Keywords (including commas) in the text area below and click the “Total Count” button. You can also copy the text in your Meta tags from the “View Source” or “View Page Source” of your web pages and paste it in to the field below.


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If you are mobile you can download the SEO Expert app from the following link: http://metacount.mjbapp.com

How to add a Photo Gallery to WordPress

Do you have a WordPress website? Need to add a photo gallery? Watch this video for a complete guide to do just that!

How to Get Found on Search Engines

Paul Thomas - Marketing Consultant MacarthurQ. What is SEO and how to get found on Search Engines

A. The best description of S.E.O. or Search Engine Optimisation (US spelling is “optimization”), is the process of creating or updating an entire website or single web page so that it complies with guidelines stipulated by the various search engine companies. A well developed and optimised website will have a better chance of achieving a high position on search engine results pages for the search terms people use to find a product, service or information portal.

Other elements of a website may need to be updated or corrected so that visitors will choose to stay and interact with the website. This could lead them to calling a phone number, completing a survey or a contact form, or making a purchase. Good design and a well thought out structure will result in more new visitors and a higher percentage of returning visitors to your website.

A detailed document about SEO can be found in the Google PDF file – “Search Engine Optimisation Guide” (free to download). If you need to know what SEO is and how to get found on search engines this guide will point you in the right direction. Or, simply try submitting your website to Google – do a search for ‘Google addurl’ – you can always ask The SEO Expert if you need some help working it all out!

To download and open the above PDF guide you will need to install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader which is available here.

Protect Your Intellectual Property

I recently received an email from a client asking me about a letter he had been sent demanding that his business cease from using their logo. Apparently the complainant uses a similar logo and has used that design for some time now. His logo is similar but still very different to that used by my client.

I am not a solicitor, however, the wording on my clients logo presents a clear differentiation from the logo used by the other party. My advice was to meet with a solicitor that specialises in IP law. I also recommended that he apply to register his logo as a Trade Mark with IP Australia.

Klipsch®Boston Acoustics™Panasonic®

Note that Boston Acoustics above, have both the TM and R symbols in their branding. The TM is in the Brand Icon and the R is for the company name.

Before your logo is registered you can use the initials ‘TM’ with your logo and the letters ‘TM’ must appear as close to the logo artwork as possible, generally to the top right of any words or graphic image/s you use. This will place others on notice that you are the owner of that ‘Mark’ and you are in the process of registering the design. This also applies to sounds [Microsoft® Windows® 'Logo Music' plays at start up and close down], smells and other designs or devices that are unique to your business and easily identify your business or organisation. Anyone can register a Trade Mark.

After your Trade Mark registration has been approved and the fees paid, you can replace the ‘TM’ with the (R) or ® signifying that your logo is now protected. However, this does not guarantee that you are home and hosed. If another company can prove that they registered a similar Trade Mark and have been using it for a long time and your Trade Mark encroaches on their IP … you may be up for a legal battle. Seek advice as soon as you can and weigh up the costs associated with changing your logo or going to court to keep it.

In another totally separate incident this year, I found that company in Queensland had blatantly stolen the design and almost all the copy, with a few minor name changes, from another one of my clients websites. I can’t expose the way in which the theft was discovered, for obvious reasons, but it wasn’t too difficult. A phone call to the company and a couple of emails to the domain owner later and the website was altered and all of the plagiarised copy removed.

We often forget how much time an effort we have put into building our businesses. The thought of being forced to change your logo rarely comes to mind and if it ever did would you be prepared to cop it on the chin? Or would you fight to hold on to what you believe is rightfully yours? Registering your Trade Mark could mean the difference between fighting and losing or, simply not having to go into battle in the first place!

You can register your Mark at IP Australia and find out more about your rights on the website: Visit IP Australia here. It is always recommended to seek professional legal advice before making any decisions regarding your Intellectual Property.